I like to discern between ‘user-friendly’ and ‘user-centric’. To me, user-centric is more about the manner in which I would like to consume IT and is focused on my personalised experience of software; user-friendly is an important part of this experience but its definition often suggests nothing more than a pleasant user interface. My phone and pad ‘apps’, for example, provide me with a personalised IT environment that’s focused on getting the job done – quickly. The interaction with them, their ‘elegant simplicity’ and high degree of automation, helps me focus on what’s important ‘here and now’ without needless involvement of adjacent tasks.
Thinking back to a quote I once heard attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” I for one ask why we can’t achieve the same (perceived) simplicity from our corporate software applications?
In reality, transformation from monolithic enterprise scale ‘application’ to ‘app’ is not necessarily about the use of new hardware, software techniques and smart algorithms. It’s much to do with business models. Here I see a real dichotomy; how can an established software company whose revenues and profitability are oriented to high value, large monolithic applications, transition to one that provisions more granular task based ‘apps’ across multiple platforms? Of course, it’d be naïve to assume that all software can be transformed, but on looking at what’s happening in the ‘personal space’ I suggest transformation is possible; but not necessarily at the hand of established software vendors.
The landscape of IT is at a significant juncture. I for one believe that user-centric IT, even in the larger enterprise, will become the expected norm; user acceptance of ‘app’ ecosystems and the many large companies embracing BYOD (Bring your own device) will drive software companies to revisit the way they present (and deliver) their software. Some call this the ‘consumerisation of IT’. Whatever the case this will be good news for those of us whose future expectations of IT are influenced by what we see in mobile (and Cloud); bad news perhaps for software companies that refuse to acknowledge evolving IT trends?